Partners In Care, the nonprofit organization based in Pasadena that assists older adults in Anne Arundel County, will soon launch a new program: Veterans Helping Veterans (VHV).
VHV is an extension of the services Partners In Care already provides. The new program will be only for veteran residents, and volunteers for the program will also be veterans.
Partners in Care assists residents age 50 and older who live in their home. Volunteers are at the heart of Partners In Care’s mission. “They amaze me to no end,” said Sharon Zentgraf, member care director and lead contact for VHV.
Residents are offered one ride per week with a volunteer, to somewhere they need to go, such as to doctor's appointments or to the grocery store, or to somewhere they want to go. Partners In Care also offers socials and seminars on topics of interest to seniors, like taxes.
In addition, Partners In Care volunteers provide small handyman services to residents in the program, such as installing railings, changing lightbulbs and hanging pictures.
Zentgraf explained that VHV came about when veterans in their program requested services and seminars designed specifically for them. One of the areas Zentgraf said they can help veterans is to provide information they need from local and federal governments. “We can help get through the red tape and get them connected with the right people,” she said.
The annual Veterans Day ceremony Partners In Care has held for many years will continue. VHV will also offer socials and activities exclusively for veterans.
Although VHV has not been formally launched yet, Partners In Care recently offered a seminar for veterans during last year’s Veterans Day event. Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis engaged with veterans in discussions. Zentgraf said the program was “amazing” in how the veterans and midshipmen learned from each other and helped to bridge generations. Zentgraf noted most midshipmen could not picture the experiences of older veterans until they had talked with them directly.
Zentgraf said having veterans volunteering for other veterans is an important component of the program. “There's a bond that none of us can understand,” she noted. VHV will help facilitate connections with other veterans, which Zentgraf noted is especially important as veterans get older because post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tends to worsen with age.
There are currently 200 veterans enrolled in Partners In Care, and the nonprofit expects the number to increase, possibly double, when VHV is fully implemented. Spouses of veterans are also eligible to enroll. As a result, they are seeking more veteran volunteers of any age to participate.
The launch date of VHV has recently been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. To find out when the new launch date will be, get more information about VHV, learn how veterans can enroll or learn how to become a volunteer, visit www.partnersincare.org/programs or call the Partners In Care office at 410-544-4800 and ask for the veterans program.